Head of ACN’s Middle East projects talks about the suffering of Christians in East Ghouta and Damascus
A Catholic priest spoke about the suffering of civilians in Syria, especially Christians, in the eastern part of Ghouta and in the city of Damascus because of the continuous bombings perpetrated by Muslim terrorists.
Father Andrzej Halemba told the Pontifical Foundation Help the Church in Need (ACN) that the population in eastern Ghouta “is trapped. There are several thousand! They have almost no access to food and do not receive medical attention. Many residents are injured and need surgery. “
Fr. Halemba indicated that “it is urgent that the population of East Ghouta receive food and medical assistance.” He said that “ACN is committed to taking care of these displaced persons. We want to provide pastoral and financial support so that, for example, they can be treated in a hospital. We must show our love to people who have suffered so much! “
The priest explained that the area is only four kilometres from the centre of Damascus, the capital of Syria and that from there the terrorists “can look at the city.” He indicated that nearby there are also Al Qaeda troops and “south of Damascus there are still some units of the Daesh”, name which is also known as the Islamic State.
The jihadists “see the civilian population as a human shield. And the government fears that among the civilian refugees arriving in Damascus there are kamikazes “who sow” terror in the city. Anguish and terror reign everywhere “said the priest who is in charge of ACN projects in the Middle East.
Fr Halemba commented that he recently spoke with a religious Sister who told him that “neither she nor the other Sisters could leave the city centre to go to the neighbourhoods where many Christians and refugees live in East Ghouta. It’s very dangerous. They stopped the convoys that were supposed to transport humanitarian aid to Damascus. It’s a terrible situation! “
He denounced terrorist attacks in the area known as “the old city” of Damascus, where Christian neighbourhoods like that of Bab Touma have been “seriously affected”.
“The combatants are aware that every time there is death and destruction, they attract the attention of the public: it is calculated. That’s why they attack the Christian neighbourhood, “he lamented. “The situation is very serious. The mortar fire continues uninterrupted. Christians live in the anguish of death, “he continued.
Fr. Bahjat Karakachm, head of the Franciscan community in Bab Touma, said that “two or three people die every day.” He recalled that in early March ” three schools were bombed but, thank God, there were not many students because parents do not send their children out of fear. On January 8, a missile hit our church, the Sanctuary of the Conversion of St Paul. According to tradition, the apostle fell off his horse in that place on the way to Damascus. “Our neighbourhood is the most dangerous in Damascus. The population here feels abandoned by the West. Everyone looks at Ghouta, but in our neighbourhood mortars fall and people die, “said Fr Karakachm. In January of this year, the terrorists threw rockets and mortar shells at the neighbourhoods of the so-called “Old City” of Damascus, where there are several churches and the headquarters of the patriarchates.
Fr Halemba noted that ACN has been active in the region for a long time and has given more than 21 million euros in emergency aid since the beginning of the war. “Today, we help Christian families by providing them with food, clothing and medicine. We are developing pastoral and therapeutic support for these traumatized people. We encourage the work of communities of consecrated life because these communities are essential for emergency assistance,” he said.